“What happens when you find joy unspeakable in an unspeakably joyless world? Does it change the world; does it change us or God? When I speak of joy, I refer to an exultation of body and soul that extends far beyond our ordinary pleasures. This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can”
So wrote Irish Playwright, George Bernard Shaw in “Man and Superman” ( Epistle Dedicatory, New York: Penguin, 1903)32.
I want to tell you about a group of young New Mexico middle school children called Wild Friends. I learned about them recently. They exemplify Shaw’s idea of service to the community, albeit they are only 4th – 12th grade. They are learning young what it is to preserve what is important and work on behalf of something that matters….some being that needs your help.Civic responsibility.They are being taught at a formative age what it means to be of service to the world around them.
Started over 20 years ago by a lawyer at the University of New Mexico, it originally was founded as a way for children to learn about the legislative process and our government system by studying and creating policies and bills themselves. They then take their cases before the State Legislative Sessions. Amazingly, they have passed almost 17 out of 25 bills or memorials in their short history—experiencing everything from choosing an issue, researching it, contacting congressional staff and finally, testifying. Since their focus is the natural world, these have ranged from anti-poaching bills to anti-cruelty to wildlife, prairie dog and butterfly memorials, reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and children’s outdoor Bill of Rights.
The one that caught my attention was their 2016 memorial to create a Bee Aware Day. It passed, after Senator Mimi Stewart, a former educator herself, hustled behind the scenes to make it possible in the Senate.
I have been so taken and delighted by what these youngsters around the state (12 middle schools in all) are doing together, that when I found out about it I called the Lawyer, Sue George, who works with them and asked how I could be of service. It makes me verklempt to think of young people learning at a young age what it means to choose to care for what they love—in this case the non-human community of critters. For me, critters are up there with children and the elderly in terms of their vulnerable status in society. They are devalued and easily disregarded when it comes to the powerful and well connected.
Our little advocacy and education startup, ThinkLikeABee, along with NM Beekeepers Association and state agencies such as the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and Las Cruces State University will support and work with Wild Friends this year to bring a bill again to our State Senate in 2017. This time we are looking for more serious pollinator safeguards. Not just a designation—though, mind you, getting the Governor to create a Bee Awareness Day is nothing to sniff at in these days of partisan politics. It’s an amazing beginning point. These students have created a window of opportunity for all of us who care about bees and butterflies, bats and birds who pollinate our food and generally bring beauty and life to our planet. Check them out on Facebook and their website. Support them financially: http://wildfriends.unm.edu/
Thank you, thank you, thank you UNM Law School and Sue George. All you students who work so diligently on behalf of our community. Hard working teachers. Public servants such as Sen. Mimi Stewart, who admittedly will do anything for these students. She has been their most ardent supporter in the State Senate over the years.
I’m with Mimi. I’d do anything for them.